As a Christian, I am observing the holy day of Easter today. My Jewish friends are in the middle of observing Passover, and my Muslim friends are less than two weeks away from beginning Ramadan, the month of fasting and honoring their connection to God.
Typically this time of year we welcome Spring and mark our holy rituals with friends and family and gathering together with our faith community.
Just a month ago, it would have seemed unthinkable that we wouldn’t be able to gather together with our congregations to celebrate these days in worship, prayer and sharing of food. But the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything and impacted every one of us, including faith communities.
While we grieve the loss that comes with this change – including the traditional ways we observe our faith – we also have an opportunity to lean into our faith in new and deepening ways.
At this time, the most faithful thing we can do is to stay home. The way we can show love, compassion and commitment – to love God and love our neighbors – is to stop the spread of COVID-19. This means finding innovative ways to mark our holy days at home. The truth is we can practice our faith and experience God, wherever we are.
Congregations across the state are working hard to ensure that people’s spiritual, emotional and physical needs are being met. Churches, synagogues and mosques have adapted to this health crisis with creativity and heart. We are inspired by the many congregations that are building community in new and different ways, like:
- Broadcasting worship services online; even the Red Rocks Easter Service is being streamed online
- Holding Facebook Live Shabbat services and sharing Passover meals on Zoom with family and friends
- Planning virtual prayers like Colorado’s Muslim communities will hold during the month of Ramadan
- Starting an in-home delivery service for anyone in need, as our local Sikh community has done
And faith communities continue serving the most vulnerable among us during this time. For example, many have:
- Stepped up to find single-occupancy housing for those experiencing homelessness
- Assured that those who are living alone are not forgotten through regular phone calls and dropping off groceries
In this sacred season, it is important to remember that we really are all in this together. Even though we’re practicing physical distancing, we are socially connected via email, texting, phone calls, FaceTime, videoconferencing and even across the backyard fence from six feet away. I am finding that in some ways, I am feeling more connected than ever to those I love and those I want to protect from the virus.
I urge all people of faith to stay home to observe your religious traditions this year and embrace the new ways we must do things to keep us all safe and healthy. Our faith and spiritual strength will carry us until this, too, shall pass.
I believe that in the end we will find ourselves on the other side stronger and more connected with new and innovative ways of building community and supporting one another, whether we are physically apart or together.
Rev. Amanda Henderson is a pastor in the Christian Church-Disciples of Christ and the executive director of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. With Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and other members, the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado promotes justice, religious liberty and interfaith understanding.
Updated at 8:13 a.m. on Sunday, April 2, 2020: This story has been updated to correct the author of the opinion piece. It was written by the Rev. Amanda Henderson.